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Wednesday, August 30, 2023
MRC Dishonestly Cries 'Election Interference!' When RFK Jr.'s Vaccine Lies Are Called Out
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center loves Robert Kennedy Jr. because he fits into their right-wing victimhood narrative and because he could possibly hurt Joe Biden's re-election chances -- not because it actually wants him to win. LUis Cornelio kept up the victimhood narrative in a June 19 post:

In yet another example of election interference, the leftist media are once again attempting a phony plot to ban The Joe Rogan Experience podcast from Spotify.

Joe Rogan, one of the nation's most popular pro-free speech podcasters, triggered a wave of leftist outrage after an interview with Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The pair discussed several topics, including the potential negative consequences of COVID-19 vaccines. But leftist outlets Vice and The Verge painted the interview as spewing so-called vaccine misinformation and criticized Spotify for airing Rogan’s highly-acclaimed podcast.

Vice published a news article headlined, “Spotify Has Stopped Even Sort of Trying to Stem Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Misinformation.” In the article, Vice accused Spotify of allowing an “orgy of unchecked vaccine misinformation.” The Verge followed suit, dubiously claiming that Spotify has done “nothing” to prevent Rogan from peddling what it claimed to be alleged “vaccine misinformation.”

“The leftist media is at it again,” said MRC Free Speech America Director Michael Morris. “It’s not enough that Big Tech and Big Media silenced Americans during the pandemic in the lead up to and after the 2020 presidential election. Now the leftist media is attempting to silence a Democratic presidential candidate for daring to question the COVID-19 orthodoxy. Whether you agree or disagree with Joe Rogan or RFK Jr., the answer to bad speech is not censorship; it’s more speech.”

But if you're spouting dangerous misinformation about important medical issues, "free speech" isn't the issue, and Cornelio and Morris are dishonestly insisting that lies and misinformation should never be countered -- and that there is no objective definition of misinformation, given its liberal use of qualifiers as "so-called" and "alleged" -- as well as pretending that Kennedy has never been proven to have been a spreader of lies and misinformation. Also note that Cornelio and Morris make no effort to prove anything Kennedy said to be correct or to prove anything Vice and The Verge said to be false.

Cornelio then bought into the manufactured controversy that sprung from this appearance:

Dr. Peter Hotez, one of the nation’s leading pro-vaccine advocates, tweeted Vice’s article and complained that Spotify did not censor Rogan. Hotez wrote in a tweet: “⁩[J]ust awful. And from all the online attacks I’m receiving after this absurd podcast, it’s clear many actually believe this nonsense.”

But Dr. Hotez’s support of leftist Vice’s and The Verge’s tantrums did not appear to go as planned. Rogan offered $100,000 if Dr. Hotez debated RFK Jr. on vaccines. “Peter, if you claim what RFKjr is saying is ‘misinformation’ I am offering you $100,000.00 to the charity of your choice if you’re willing to debate him on my show with no time limit,” Rogan said in a now-viral tweet on Saturday.

Rogan’s offer was supported by other Twitter personalities who pledged to donate more than $2.6 million to charity if the highly controversial doctor agreed to debate RFK Jr. Valuetainment Founder Patrick Bet-David and podcast host Tim Pool were among those who pledged to donate $100,000 to a charity of Hotez’s choice.

Rather than debating his point, Dr. Hotez took to MSNBC’S Mehdi Hasan Show to complain about the so-called misinformation. During the interview, leftist host Mehdi Hasan whined about Rogan’s offer, claiming, “I don’t know if you’d agree to debate or not. My advice is not to, and people might find that surprising because I wrote a book about debate, but I just think there is a time and a place for a debate.”

Hasan, in the spirit of Vice and The Verge, compared those who oppose vaccine mandates to Holocaust deniers, adding, “I don’t think a historian of World War II should debate a Holocaust denier. [Indiscernible.] That’s … that’s my analogy here. Like, I don’t think these debates between experts and cranks do anything other than elevate the cranks.”

Cornelio didn't explain how Vice and The Verge pointing out Kennedy's history of spreading medical misinformation makes the "leftist."He also doesn't seem to understand that scientific facts are adjudicated by a public debate; they are proven or disproven by research. Also, there's no evidence Kennedy would be an honest debater.

Intern Bethany Kawalec complained that Kennedy's misinformation was held to account elsewhere in a June 20 post:

No strangers to controversy, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and podcaster Dr. Jordan Peterson again face the blast of YouTube’s ire.

YouTube once again meddled in the 2024 election when it removed yet another interview of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (D) Saturday. In an interview with world-renowned psychologist Peterson, the pair discussed a range of topics including Kennedy’s presidential campaign, vaccines and the alleged dominance of pharmaceutical companies. YouTube told MRC Free Speech America in a statement that it "removed a video from the Jordan Peterson channel for violating YouTube’s general vaccine misinformation policy, which prohibits content that alleges that vaccines cause chronic side effects, outside of rare side effects that are recognized by health authorities." 

It appears that YouTube may have censored the interview due to Kennedy’s comments on a since retracted Rolling Stone article in which he wrote about “the links between autism and vaccines.”


Peterson, whose account was directly affected by the censorship, was having none of it. “Now @YouTube has taken upon itself to actively interfere with a presidential election campaign @RobertKennedyJr,” Peterson tweeted.

Kennedy, however, used the censorship to start a discussion on Twitter, a platform that owner Elon Musk has said should promote free speech. “What do you think ... Should social media platforms censor presidential candidates?” Kennedy asked. “My conversation with @JordanBPeterson was deleted by @YouTube. Luckily you can watch it here on @Twitter (thank you @elonmusk). #Kennedy24.” Kennedy also posted the full video of the interview.

This attack on free speech and America’s electoral process is just the most recent battle in a barrage of YouTube censorship.

Kawalec is being dishonest about the vaccine-autism link, suggesting it dates back to a 2005 Rolling Stone article and ignoring that Kennedy has continued to promote the false link ever since.And like Cornelio, Kawalec refuses to acknowledge that Kennedy's medical misinformation has been repeatedly discredited. She also failed to note that Peterson is a right-wing darling or explain why she and Peterson care so much about a Democratic candidate.

Both Cornelio and Kawalec showed the dishonest why the MRC plans to approach the 2024 presidential election: by framing any attempt to fact-check a Republican candidate (or one convenient to Republican narratives like Kennedy) as "election interference." It doesn't matter if the candidate is lying through his (or her) teeth -- it's wrong to point that out. Expect to see a lot more of this highly dishonest talking point over the next year and a half.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:03 PM EDT

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